Skip to Main Content

Historical Primary Sources Databases

WCU Libraries have access to many databases for historical primary sources. This guide organizes those databases by geography and topic.

Introduction to United States page

The WCU Libraries  have access to a large number of databases that include historical primary sources related to the United States.  Coverage varies greatly in terms of dates, source types, and topics. I have attempted to organize the databases into groups (see the navigation on the left) to make it easier to find relevant databases.  Some groups are based on format (e.g., newspapers or government documents), others by topic (e.g., Pennsylvania or Civil War).  A few databases may appear in multiple groups.

Newspapers, magazines, and journals

These types of databases are a great starting point for anyone relatively new to finding and using historical primary sources.  The group of databases relating to specific ethnic groups also includes some newspaper/magazine databases.

Modern news coverage (1980s to present)

Genealogical records and statistics

Broad collections

The Special Collections Librarian and I both call these sorts of databases hodgepodge collections for lack of a better term, as they are collections of materials that cover substantial time frames and a wide range of topics, plus contain a variety of source types.

Daily life and culture

This category is a catch all for collections that focus on almost any aspect of American society and culture. 

Collections relating to specific ethnic groups

Many of these are newspaper or magazine databases, but a few are collections of other types of materials.


In addition to the smaller collections below, also consider using some of the resources from the general Newspaper and Magazines category.  Many of them include periodicals published in Pennsylvania-- though the ease of limiting to a geographical region varies from database to database.  For instance, America's Historical Newspapers includes the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1829-1922.

United States government documents

Civil war, slavery, and abolition

Women, women's rights, and suffrage

West Chester University   ---    WCU Libraries  25 West Rosedale Avenue, West Chester, PA 19383  610-430-4400